The Best Free VPN List for 2019 - Free services that won't compromise your privacy

It’s not always easy to find a reliable free VPN, but these services do exist, as long as you know where to look. ProPrivacy.com’s experts have put together this guide on the best free VPNs - and the worst.

What are the best free VPNs?

If you want a quick answer, here's a preview of who made our best free VPN list:

  1. Hide.me - offers 5 free servers and 2GB data cap per month
  2. Windscribe - offers 10 free servers and 10GB data cap per month
  3. ProtonVPN - offers 3 free servers and and no data cap
  4. TunnelBear - offers 19 free servers and 500MB data cap per month
  5. Hotspot Shield - offers 1 free US server and 500MB data cap per day

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The Best Free VPNs: Detailed Comparison

In the list below, our privacy experts take a close look at each of their favorite free VPN providers, and explain why they made of list.

1. Hide.me

Hide.Me free offers fast speeds and a generous data allowance

  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Money-back Guarantee

Hide.Me is an awesome Malaysian VPN provider has an excellent free service. Although users are limited to just three server locations (Singapore, the Netherlands, and Canada), users get a whopping 2GB per month of free use at up to 80Mbps.

When reviewing hide.me, we found the lack of server locations means it isn’t good for unblocking content from all over the world. If you need US or UK servers, please look elsewhere. On the plus side, this VPN has a strong privacy policy and provides robust encryption to keep your data secure.

2. Windscribe

Windscribe free offers a mammoth 10GBs per month

  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • Money-back Guarantee

Windscribe has always been one of our favorite free VPNs. Compared to some other free services, Windscribe gives more– 10GB data allowance per month! This is pretty amazing because Windscribe is actually trying to encourage people to buy its premium service.

What’s more, this VPN has strong encryption and keeps zero logs – making it fantastic for privacy. With unlimited simultaneous connections permitted, this VPN is truly outstanding.

3. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN free offers unlimited usage and decent speeds

  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Money-back Guarantee

ProtonVPN made it two-years on the bounce to claim the award of 'Best Free VPN' at our illustrious awards in Las Vegas on 7th January 2019. This superb service, provided by the developers of Proton Mail, is a secure VPN that lets people use the service on an unlimited basis and with decent speeds. This makes it perfect for privately surfing the web on a daily basis without delay - exactly why ProtonVPN offers this version of their product. 

ProtonVPN is a superb VPN that many people may find useful for unblocking censored news.

4. TunnelBear

TunneBear free offers limited usage but a quality service

  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS

TunnelBear VPN is a free service that constantly impresses people. This VPN is super-secure and even opened up its software to a third-party analysis last year. The outcome? Security researchers found the VPN to be secure and reliable. It also keeps no logs.

Unfortunately, The service is restricted to just 500MB per month. Despite this, it is brilliant for locations with severe censorship and where privacy is essential. It is perfect for securely unblocking news.

5. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield free offers an extensive server network for free users

  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Mac
    • iOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Netflix

Hotspot Shield is an awesome free VPN that has helped millions of people in their time of need. It was the most used VPN during the Turkey coup and the Arab Spring. Users get free access not only to the VPN but also a Chrome extension.

The free service permits connections to the US only, but the extension permits connections to 14 countries (but not the US). The result is that Hotspot Shield users can unblock content in 15 countries for free! What’s more, Hotspot Shield’s free plan lets people have 500MB of download use per day. That is a massive usage allowance considering it is free.

Why are these the best free VPNs?

There is a lot of negative press when it comes to free VPNs. Most comparison sites will urge you to stay well clear of them. We'll be the first to put our hands up and say this was our standard advice for a long time too. That's because there were (and still are) a lot of awful VPNs out there that take advantage of their users' data for their own gains. About 95% of the free VPNs available on the market are either useless or even dangerous.

But the truth is the market is changing and there are now a few providers that do offer genuinely excellent free products. They do come with certain caveats compared to their premium cousins, but as long as you are aware of the differences between the two offerings, a free VPN can be a hugely powerful and useful tool - both on mobile and desktop. 

The VPNs in the list above were selected by ProPrivacy.com’s experts, who carefully reviewed every free VPN on the market. All of our VPN recommendations are transparent about how they handle user data. They also provide up-to-date encryption implementation that can be trusted to protect your privacy and hide your internet activity at all times.

During our research, we considered the following attributes:

  1. Encryption availability and implementation
  2. Privacy policy and data handling
  3. Server locations and availability
  4. VPN speeds and performance levels
  5. Reputation and history
  6. Relationships with third parties such as advertising and marketing firms

All the free VPNs that we selected for you offer a plan that is completely free. None of them require you to hand over your credit card details to download and use their service.

For more information, check out our free VPNs explained video:

How Does A Free VPN Work? | TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield & More | ProPri...

How Does A Free VPN Work? | TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield & More | ProPrivacy
How Does A Free VPN Work? | TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield & More | ProPrivacy

How a free VPN works

The free VPN app connects your device (such as a PC, Mac or smartphone) to a server run by the VPN provider. All data that travels between your device and the VPN server is encrypted to ensure that no-one else can see it. The VPN server acts as a gateway to the internet, and all your internet data is routed through it.

how a VPN works

If you're new to VPNs, you can get up to speed quickly with our handy guides for beginners:

The benefits of free VPNs

A free VPN is a useful tool for people who need access to online information or websites that are blocked. When governments block websites - including social media platforms, or Voice Over IP (VoIP) messengers such as Skype - a VPN will help you to:

When you travel overseas for business or pleasure, a VPN will let you access websites from back home and allow you to:

A VPN provides online security at home and on public WiFi. No matter whether you are on vacation or using the internet in a local coffee shop, a VPN:

Free VPN restrictions and limitations

If you pick one of our recommended free services, the VPN will be likely to be a more limited service than one of our premium (paid) VPN subscriptions. This is because many (not all) trusted free VPN plans are often there to tempt consumers into purchasing a subscription. Free VPN plans may do some (or all) of the following:

  • Cap the amount of data you are allowed to download via the VPN
  • Limit the bandwidth (connection speed) making your internet too slow to stream, etc
  • Only provide access to a few server locations (that many people use and become congested - causing more connection speed problems)
  • Limits what you are allowed to do with the VPN (blocks Netflix or disallows torrenting)
  • May not provide full customer support because you are a free user

Free VPN servers

Some providers advertise connections to free VPN servers. This is to differentiate between the number of servers available on the premium (paid) plans and the free plan. Some VPNs that offer a free plan restrict access to free users to only a smaller selection of free servers. For all intents and purposes, however, a VPN with free servers is exactly the same as a "free VPN".

Some of the worst free VPNs

If you use one of ProPrivacy.com’s recommended free virtual private networks, you do not need to worry about privacy and online security. All of our recommendations offer the same level of data protection, encryption, features (such as a killswitch or DNS leak protection), and watertight privacy policies - on both paid and free plans.

This is not always true of every free VPN provider. We've scoured the policy terms of all the providers and listed some free VPNs you should avoid at all cost.

VPNWhy avoid?Extra info
HolaCan sell data to third parties* Shares emails with marketing partners. Sells traffic data to sister firm. Shared anonymized data to third parties.Fraudulently steals & resells user bandwidth through sister company Luminati. DNS and WebRTC leaks detected.
BetternetCan sell data to third parties.* Allows advertisers to cookie users' browsers. Displays targeted advertising. Parent firm can access all data.Lets advertisers track and log user data. IP Leak in Chrome browser extension. Contains 14 tracking libraries in total (according to CSIRO report).
PsiphonCan sell data to third parties.* Allows ad partners to track users. Displays targeted advertising.Shares data with their advertising partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with parent company.
HoxxVPNCan sell data to third parties.* Isn't a VPN (it's a ShadowScos proxy service). DNS and WebRTC leaks. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.Keeps logs and sells them to third-party partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners.
SuperVPNWilling to disclose information to authorities. Reports of it being infected with malware. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.Extensive access to user's sensitive information. Stores session logs in the UK and US.
ArchieVPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).
Onavo ProjectCan sell data to third parties.* Uses user info for advertising and marketing. Displays ads to users.Belongs to Facebook. Shares and sells user data with third parties.
HatVPNHas no available privacy policy. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Invasive app permissionsCould be doing anything they want with user data. Developed and based in China.
VPN by ApalonInvasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes.Displays ads. In-app purchases.
Private Pipe VPNShares data with affiliate partners. Displays targeted ads on websites.Confusing privacy policy (claims no logs, but contradicts this claim).
Tuxler VPNCan sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users.Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.
GO VPNCan sell data to third parties*. Admits to using customer data to build out their database. Displays targeted ads through the platform.Belongs to Chinese firm Talking Data. Willing to sell usage logs to third parties and partners. Extremely invasive app permissions.
HexatechCan sell data to third parties*. Allows advertisers to track and log user data. Advertisers can access user data whenever they want.Created by Betternet (belongs to a marketing firm). Displays ads to users.
TouchVPNCan sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags and Web Beacons to user browsers.Shares anonymous data with third parties.
Faceless.meDoesn't work. The privacy policy is too ambiguous to be taken seriously.Has no support if you have concerns or questions.
FinchVPNCan sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
Cross VPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
VPN OneClick FreeReports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android.Based in the UAE.
Flash Free VPNInvasive app permissions.Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.
Fast Secure Payment VPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
sFly Network BoosterReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
IP-Shield VPNContains third-party tracking software.N/A
WiFi Protector VPNUses 5 tracking libraries.N/A
TigerVPNsFraudulently steals and resells users bandwidth.N/A
Private WiFiAppears to have poor or no encryption.N/A

*according to the privacy policy

What can I use a free VPN for?

Below we list what a free VPN can help you with  when browsing online. 

Using a free VPN for streaming

People who want to unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer using a VPN require a service that provides high speeds. Streaming with a VPN also requires a VPN with a large network of servers that don’t suffer from congestion. Free VPNs do not always support highly in-demand streaming sites such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.

If streaming is your main desire, a free service might not always suffice. However, because these recommended VPNs cost nothing - it will do no harm to try them.

There are some fantastic cheap VPN services out there that will let you unblock content on streaming services from anywhere in the world, in HD. These services provide high speeds, strong encryption and cost less than $2 a month.

Using a free VPN for torrenting

A free VPN is not likely to be good for downloading via BitTorrent. This is because there's no such thing as a truly unlimited free VPN. Free VPN download limits and speed restrictions can make downloading via Peer-to-Peer time-consuming and difficult. If you want a VPN to torrent with ease, you will need a VPN with unlimited data and no speed restrictions. Why not check out our Torrenting VPN to see our recommendations.

Using a free VPN service to bypass censorship

Free VPNs have shown their worth time and time again when governments around the world block websites. During times of political upheaval, as well as during protests and riots, governments often block websites. In some countries, websites may be blocked on religious or moral grounds. A VPN can help people bypass these restrictions. Free VPNs have helped many people in acute times of need.

However, please remember that accessing government-restricted content could land you in trouble with the authorities. In the very worst cases, you could go to jail, or worse. For this reason, it is wise to consider your local environment.

If you are in a ‘high risk’ location such as China, UAE (Dubai), Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, or Pakistan - and plan to visit high-risk websites, great care should be taken to ensure you only use a secure VPN with strong encryption. The free VPNs in this guide should provide what you need to bypass censorship securely (please check each summary carefully), but if you have concerns feel free to contact us via the link at the end of this article.

If you are wondering whether a free VPN will unblock sites, such as Popcorn Time, The Pirate Bay, putlocker - or other websites blocked by ISPs - the answer is yes!

FAQs

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated #4 VPN and #3 internet privacy authority by Agilience.com.

150 Comments

  1. Justin

    on September 26, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Ray Seems like this is wrong "strong encryption and keeps zero logs" in your article for Windscribe VPN. They do keep log. As per the review article here : https://www.techwibe.com/windscribe/ This is confusing as per their website windscribe.com FAQ page We do not store any permanent access logs or monitor what our users do. You can sign up without an email address, and pay with Bitcoin, so we would have no idea who you are. For more details, see our Privacy Policy. Their privacy policy page. For the duration of your connection we store the following data in a temporary location: OpenVPN username, VPN server connected to, time of connection, amount of data transferred during the session. This data expires and is discarded within 3 minutes of session termination. Whats your take on this ?

    1. Ray Walsh replied to Justin

      on October 1, 2019
      Reply

      All VPN providers can monitor what you do in real time, because they can analyze your data as it passes over their servers. This is why there is always an element of trust involved in having a VPN provider, and it is essential to choose one that you do trust to do the job properly. When data passes over any VPN server, logs are created that must be deleted when the session ends. All no logs VPN providers delete the logs that you create during your session at the end of your session, the fact that Windscribe admits to doing it within 3 minutes is not unusual or concerning, it is transparent. We class a "no logs" VPN as one which keeps no logs which pose credible threat to its users' privacy. We discuss the topic at length here: https://proprivacy.com/vpn-comparison/best-no-logs-vpns. Windscribe passes this test.

  2. Tanitani

    on July 30, 2019
    Reply

    Correct me if I got something wrong, but why is the webpage called "free VPN services" when you need to pay for them?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Tanitani

      on July 31, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Tanitani. All the VPN services listed here offer a 100% free tier with no up-front cost (any limitations are described in the main summary text). You can upgrade to a more fully-featured service for the prices shown, but we can see the current layout is confusing and plan to change our presentation today.

  3. Jerry

    on June 20, 2019
    Reply

    Why use a free one? I think this subject was discussed over and over again these past five years. Just get a cheaper paid option and sleep calmly. Surfshark is not even 2 bucks a month, it costs the same money like an ice cream cone. Maybe Proton could be worth considering, the only one from the options you listed

  4. Roselyn

    on March 6, 2019
    Reply

    Windscribe is my favorite vpn to use and one i'd say is among the best. Very reliable and easy to use, especially with their cruise control feature. It's worth checking out and still one i'd consider worth paying a few extra $$ for.

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